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On the hunt for a serum that’s perfectly formulated for your acne-prone skin? Here is our guide to the best drugstore serums for acne.
1. Hydrium Centella Aqua Soothing Ampoule
COSRX Serum for Soothing and hydrating
COSRX Hydrium Centella Aqua Soothing Ampoule
This soothing and hydrating serum is packed with effective yet gentle ingredients that help soothe the skin. It is even suitable for calming current breakouts.
Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Soothing and hydrating
Tested on animals:
How to use: After cleansing, apply a few drops of the serum to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
One of the key ingredients in this gentle serum is centella asiatica extract. This plant extract has been shown to effectively treat wounds and soothe inflammation in the skin. It also contains vitamin B5 (AKA panthenol), an anti-inflammatory ingredient that improves hydration and elasticity while soothing the skin.
Lightweight and non-sticky
Vegan and cruelty-free
The lighter hydration may not be hydrating enough for very dry skin
In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this Korean serum contains madecassoside, which has antioxidant benefits, and allantoin, which soothes.
This product contains a 10% concentration of azelaic acid, a gentle exfoliator that has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The lightweight gel-cream helps to improve and brighten skin tone, as well as unclog pores and reduce blemishes for clear, smooth skin.
Vegan and cruelty-free
Some reviewers note that this product can be drying
In addition to its ability to fight acne, azelaic acid is often used to treat rosacea to promote a more even skin tone.
Niacinamide is an excellent skincare ingredient that has been shown to control sebum production, reduce redness and inflammation, minimize fine lines, and even reduce hyperpigmentation. This product also contains zinc, which further balances sebum production and reduces inflammation.
Vegan and cruelty-free
May cause flushing in those sensitive to niacinamide (patch test prior to using)
This product is an excellent choice for acne-prone skin. However, those currently fighting acne will also want to introduce other acne-fighting ingredients into their routine, as niacinamide on its own is not an effective treatment for minimizing breakouts.
This is a great multi-purpose serum to have on hand. If you have hyperpigmentation, this is a particularly excellent product for you, as azelaic acid has been shown to help fade dark marks. It’s also great for smoothing the skin for a more even texture.
May irritate more sensitive skin types
This booster contains salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliator that further minimizes the appearance of blemishes and evens out skin texture and tone. It also contains licorice root, which calms redness and brightens.
Two great drugstore serums that will help address acne scars are The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% and the Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster. These serums contain azelaic acid and other ingredients that help lighten post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (the dark marks left behind by acne) for a more even skin tone. It should be noted that these serums likely won’t make a huge difference in raised or pitted scars. Those types of scars often require professional treatments in order to completely diminish their appearance.
Which serum is best for oily acne-prone skin?
Many of the serums recommended above are suitable for oily skin that is prone to acne, but a particularly great choice is The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. This serum contains a blend of ingredients that not only target acne, but also regulate the production of sebum (for a more matte complexion) and minimize redness.
Should you use a serum if you have acne?
Yes, people with skin that is prone to breakouts can greatly benefit from adding a serum to their routine. There are serums that specifically address acne, as well as others that target a variety of other skin concerns. The key is finding a serum that is appropriate for your skin type. You’ll also want a formula that is free of ingredients that can clog pores and trigger breakouts.
The Bottom Line
If you have skin that is prone to breakouts, you can find some great drugstore serums that are suitable for your skin. For a clear and healthy complexion, consider trying out one of our recommended serums in your skincare routine.
About the author
Kyra is a content writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She works in the health and wellness sphere, and covers everything from beauty to skincare to fitness. She has been passionate about skincare since she was a teenager, and loves uncovering the absolute best routines and products available to help people reach their skin goals.